Studies in Transit

Neighborhood, mid-June, age 23

Map of the neighborhood in bodegas looks like a Scantron. I walk past them and green canisters of surface cleaner rotate in the wave of my transience. Renovation birdsong. A wooden garage door soaked oily red. It smells like keys.[1] Map of the neighborhood in linden trees looks elliptical. For a few blocks I follow Hasidic girls in black coats and athletic shoes. The little ones call the older ones mama and the older ones are my age and their hands are red. Far away the skinhead youth of Greenpoint. Far away my Boar’s Head ham. A dance around the cross in the park by the bus depot. Three plastic mannequins on Broadway bitch about gentrification and I can see one’s pubic void. Map of the neighborhood in torsos: dark women with teepees of hair on their stomachs. Homeless guys and Homeless guys, give them change.[2] The sun is dense and absorbent as a sugar cube. Hasidic girls wear gray nylon hair bows, they carry tins of kitten food. Sirens never stop so I never stop crossing myself.[3] Map of the neighborhood in sirens is lacey. Descent: a little pissish with something like McNuggets. When I walk down stairs my dress blooms. Underground never has anatomy here just a sign that says Do Not Wait In This Area with arrows pointing in both directions like a Loony Toon. The guts of one person look like anyone else’s, this is logical. Like McNuggets. Homeless guys.[4] This rat right on the platform, it’s divinely untrampled, its little back bowed like Manet’s Spanish odalisque wrapped around a méridienne. My dress is synthetic and wraps up my legs just a little obscenely. This rat with no signs of life or death.[5] Can’t smell it. Oh it’s coming. Familiar expansion. The air is vile, its force is like a yellow glove. This broken pen with ink cauliflowered over the benches.The light autotelic the mannequin’s white mound. The train leaves and I walk up the steps. Everyone who was moved has moved on by now.[6] A penny in the shade so cold it feels wet.

[1] Earlier I’m on Thompson with Coley and Michael after breakfast and Coley says that’s where so-and-so used to take me and feed me dumplings when I tried to commit suicide and she points to May May’s Chinese and we go somewhere else and eat tiny donuts filled with rose cream.

[2] If I were a bum I’d want power. I’d jerk off with my pants mostly still on and no one would know if I was looking at them or at the vending machine over there.

[3] Coley and I will kick our habits, choose our friends, our mouths full.

[4] I compulsively give away money and at first I was worried that my subconscious was planning to kill me and my ego didn’t know — I don’t want to die — but Dr. Block says it’s more an issue of boundaries.

[5] I just remembered I need to tell Robbie that the vet said he can’t hold my hedgehog cause he’s poz.

[6] From Francesca Woodman’s diary in the 70s: “I’m still thinking about some sweet summer plums I ate in Italy last summer known as nuns’ thighs.”

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Photo by Michael Tapp.

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